REVIEW OF The York School BY alumnus, Gabi Stefou
- Date of Review
August 09, 2018
Gr. 7 - 12
- University (major)
(5) Overall Experience
My experience at Villanova was nothing short of life-changing. I entered Grade 7 as a shy student afraid of asking questions, especially coming from a school that didn't provide assistance if I did so. I attended summer school for English and Math at Villanova the summer before Grade 7 to expose me to the new environment and help improve my skills. One of the most memorable moments was my first day of summer school, as I was absolutely blown away at how dedicated my teachers were to my education. From that day forward, I never stopped asking questions as each once of my teachers were selfless with their time, and I certainly feel that my time at Villanova left me very prepared for university.
(5) School Leadership
School leadership and administration, including teachers, are respected at Villanova, and many are admired for their service to the school and the wider community. Every faculty and staff member at Villanova respect their students, and are dedicated to their well-being and success. The school environment is incredibly positive, and a sense of unity is fostered, especially through faith. Although I don't have a lot of knowledge of discipline issues, the incidents that I'm aware of were dealt with reasonably.
The highlight of Villanova College is the quality of its teaching faculty. They are selfless, dedicated, and passionate about supporting students and helping them reach their goals. While the academic environment is challenging, the amount of support offered is more than enough to succeed. Teachers go out of their way to be of assistance, coming early in the morning or staying until much past dismissal to be there for students. There are no words to do describe how much personal and academic growth I experienced due to Villanova's exceptional learning environment. In particular, the Music Department at Villanova, especially its chair, Mr. Peter Jones, has had a large impact on my growth as a person and student, and many alumni can say the same.
The academic program at Villanova is challenging, but very well designed. In particular, the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) offers students a leg-up in university preparation, greatly narrowing the academic gap between Grade 12 and the first year of university. Many AP courses are also offered in Grade 12, giving students an opportunity to experience the level of independent learning and initiative required to succeed in university. The main focus of Villanova College is to prepare its students for university, and I can certainly say from my experience that I was very prepared. Like any student body, there are a variety of students with different attitudes about academics, some more serious than others, but, overall, the students care about doing well in school.
There are an exceptional number of sports teams, clubs, and organizations at Villanova. The atmosphere of clubs and organizations is more laid-back, while sports teams are more competitive; however, each program focuses on establishing relationships and personal development. I personally had the privilege of being involved in many music programs, which was an incredible highlight of my Villanova experience.
The student body is unparalleled in its level of school spirit and unity, which is fostered by each member of Villanova's faculty and staff. The school's very motto, Unitas (Unity), Veritas (Truth), Caritas (Love), is demonstrated by staff and students everyday. I think it is hard to describe the "typical" Villanova student, as the student body is diverse in its interests and passions; however, academic fortitude and a passion for helping and supporting others are values shared and respected by other students. Most students at Villanova come from an upper-middle class background, with many students being of Italian heritage. Never once in my six years at Villanova did I witness a student being treated differently on the basis of an ethnic or socio-economic difference.
(5) School Life
I remember after my very first day of summer school at Villanova before Grade 7, I was so amazed by the dedication and passion my teachers demonstrated that I couldn't wait to go to school the next day. I truly loved my experience at Villanova. It was an absolute privilege to have attended and to have been presented with so many opportunities, both academic and extracurricular, and to have established many strong relationships with my teachers and classmates. The overall student body is positive and passionate; however, students in their upper years of high-school tend to become a bit stressed, as academics become more challenging and it becomes time to apply to and select a university, which I don't think Villanova students experience alone.
As a recent grad, I haven't had a lot of experience as a member of the alumni community, but I look forward to being involved in alumni networking opportunities established by Villanova, as well as being a part of the many ways that alumni can give back to the school. I have certainly maintained relationships with teachers and students from Villanova since graduation. Faculty, staff, and students of Villanova truly value community service and establishing strong bonds within the school. Many charity events are organized within the school that not only brings Villanova together, but also benefits the wider community. Many events and organizations are also created to engage parents of Villanova students, including the Parent Council and events like the annual Dinner Dance.
(5) School Location
Villanova is located in a more rural portion of King City, so students did not go beyond school grounds, as one would need to have access to a car to visit the shops and restaurants of the city. Students with a license were not allowed to leave school grounds during school hours as a safety policy of the school.
As I began school at Villanova over seven years ago, I am not sure if admissions procedures have changed since then. A written examination to evaluate grade-level proficiency in math and English was required for admission at the time. For me, it was stressful because I wanted to attend Villanova very much, and I was worried that my math skills would not be sufficient, as it was my most challenging subject and I had not received much assistance at my previous school. However, I felt that the admissions process was straightforward and not bureaucratically difficult for myself or my parents, and that a lot of information about the school and its vision was provided to ensure the school was the right fit for me.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
The university counselling program at Villanova is run through Student Services. I really valued that representatives from many, if not all, Ontario universities were invited to Villanova to provide information sessions to Grade 12 students. Also, counselors in Student Services are available for one-on-one meetings with students to provide advisement. Critical information about the application process was provided in a clear manner, and students were given many reminders to ensure that these details were not forgotten. I felt supported in the application process, not only by the guidance staff, but also by my teachers, who offered their personal experiences and advice. I feel that if more members of the Student Services department were introduced, it may have made obtaining assistance a little bit smoother.